My son loves to build things and enjoys both creating his own inventions and following instructions to make something specific. With this in mind I bought him various building kits for Christmas and one of the items I purchased was the K'nex Moto-Bot series Turbo.
==What is it?==
K'nex is basically a building system which uses plastic rods, cogs and such like. With the Moto-Bot series they have introduced four robots which you can build and which also feature a motor in order to make it move. In our case the Turbo Moto-Bot looks quite like the Disney Pixar character Wall-e and so I thought it would be something that my son would enjoy creating and playing with.
The Moto-Bot came packed in a sturdy cardboard box which featured a picture of the Turbo robot created on the front as well as information telling us that the product is designed for children aged seven years plus and that it features a choking hazard for children under three due to small parts. What is quite prominent on the front of the box is the information which states the robot uses a motor and to be honest this probably was the selling point for me as I think it offers something a bit more than your usual construction kit because of the fact that you can make it actually work once you built it and I knew that this would be something that would appeal to my son.
Inside the box all of the pieces required to build Turbo are enclosed in plastic bags and there is also a set of colour instructions. With anything like this I always make sure that my son and I set out all of the pieces in to their own little groups checking off that there is the correct amount in the kit before we begin to build. With this kit there are an awful lot of pars with there being 73 tiny rings to count just as an example! I would advise that you make sure that all of the parts are counted though because specific things are required in each part.
Once we had laid out all of the pieces on the floor my son and I turned our attention to the instructions and I have to say this is where my main issue with any K'nex kit begins really because the instructions could be so much clearer than what they are and it would make life a whole lot easier. With the K'nex instructions you are basically given a page that will perhaps say steps 1-4 and you are shown a small picture of what it should look like at the end of those steps along with a larger picture which shows you what you are meant to do but the steps just aren't broken down very well and so it can be tricky to see if you have completed everything in each step. What would be so much better would be if they were to follow the lead of Lego for example who offer individual steps which are always quite small and so easier to follow.
As we went along building the Turbo Moto-Bot I have to say we did find some steps easier than others and in particular the parts in which the cogs are slotted together were quite hard to follow even as an adult and the issue was that if you did slot them together the wrong way they became near impossible to prise apart again resulting in a lot of stressing and throwing things around the room (from me mainly whilst my son looked a bit worried!) Again I would say that the instructions didn't help here and should they have been clearer perhaps it would have been less stressful to build the robot. Whilst I appreciate my son isn't yet seven, he isn't far off, and I would say there is no way a seven year old could build this on their own and I would say that the majority of older children would need adult input too. My son is capable of making his own creations using his K'nex bucket so it is not a case of not being able to connect the pieces and such like, just more that it is quite a complex thing to build.
I would imagine that it took us around two hours to fully build Turbo and it was at that point that we realised we hadn't put the batteries in the motor! Ooops! Luckily for us we were able to unscrew the motor and add the two AA batteries without having to dismantle Turbo or I don't think he would have ever been built again! Once Turbo was ready to be played with my son took him in to the kitchen where we have laminate flooring where the rubber on the robots wheels would be able to move more freely. You have two options when you switch Turbo on and you can either have him move forwards or backwards and he will basically move in a straight line whilst his big eyes spin round as well. Whilst this sounds quite simple it is nice for my son to see that he has made a functioning, moving robot from K'nex and he is quite proud of that fact and will show people what it does when they come round to the house and such like. Sadly this is about as much as Turbo comes out to play and for the most part he is sat in my son's toy box because if you are a bit heavy handed with him his hand will fall off or something and whilst this is easily put back on I think it is a bit annoying for my son and so I would say that once built this item becomes much more of a display item rather than an actual play thing.
I do think this is a nice item and were the instructions clearer I would certainly recommend it because even as a display item I think it is a nice thing for your child to be able to say they made with you or whatever. I would say you do need a lot of patience to be able to complete this kit though and it is rather frustrating as you go through the steps but you do get a real sense of relief and achievement once you see it working!
==Price and availability==
I purchased the K'nex Moto-Bot Turbo from toys r us where it cost me £14.99 and it is still available at that price. Having looked online though the price ranges greatly with home and bargains selling it for £9.99 and someone on amazon selling it for £31.99 so I would certainly advise looking around for it should you be interested in purchasing it.
Thank you for reading my review!